Giving Compass' Take:

• The co-op model in communities provides shared power opportunities in businesses, housing, and resourcing. It is a practice that can successfully address racial equity and the future of work by shifting the paradigm toward shared power. 

• How can donors support community co-ops? How are co-ops elevating community voice? 

• Learn about the growth of worker co-ops as a component of the U.S. economy. 

Communities of color have experienced historical and structural disinvestment, which has led to an unprecedented racial wealth gap, historically low home ownership, and exploitative work environments that keep individuals and families of color from achieving shared prosperity.

We know that the current system is not working for all communities. What is needed is a model that changes the paradigm, a future of work that transforms industries from exploitative into those that foster empowerment, resilience, and racial equity. The cooperative model challenges the status quo and offers workers, especially workers of color, an alternative to extractive systems. While not a new intervention, co-ops remain a powerful tool to disrupt income inequality, steward community ownership, and create strong, vibrant places of opportunity through democratic ownership and asset building.

Structural racism and disinvestment in the form of redlining and other biased policies have hampered the aspirations of communities of color for generations. The promise of a living wage and quality, dignified work was slim for many years, and often non-existent. As a result, many families have not been able to experience the generational wealth – and the benefits that it provides – that white Americans have enjoyed.

Models like co-ops point to a future of work that breaks down financial inequality and bolsters racial equity by disempowering extractive outside forces and instead helping communities leverage their own assets to build power.

The cooperative model can push against the structural barriers that have boxed communities of color in. Shared ownership provides a means to build wealth through profit-sharing, both within families and through community investments. Co-ops engage communities around their specific needs, ensuring that they have tailored solutions to their problems. Cooperative ownership also creates and catalyzes leaders among individuals who usually have little to no voice through establishing businesses, housing, and resources that are owned by community members.

Read the full article about how co-ops can address racial equity by Alison Powers at Social Capital Markets.